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Full text of "Coutroubis v. Sklavos, Board of Inquiry, June 1981 BOI 132"

ONTARIO 

MINISTRY OF LABOUR 

J UN - i981 



HUMAN RIGHTS 
COWMISSICN^ 



IN THE MATTER OF THE ONTARIO HU?4AN RIGHTS CODE 

AND 

IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINTS MADE BY MERI 
COUTROUBIS AND IRENE KEKATOS, BOTH OF TORONTO, 
THAT THEY HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AND DISCRIMINATED 
AGAINST WITH REGARD TO A TER.M OR CONDITION OF 
EMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF THEIR SEX. 



DECISION 



JUNE 16, 1981 



E.J. RATUSHNY 
BOARD OF INQUIRY 



) 

DECISION 

The hearing in this matter dealt with two separate com- 
plaints by Meri Coutroubis and Irene Kekatos, respectively. While 
the complaints arose out of separate incidents, those incidents 
were closely related in time and in circumstances. Both involved 
the same individual respondents who offered a common explanation 
for the origin of the complaints. In all of the circumstances, 
and to reduce the complexity of the proceedings for the Respondent, 
who was not represented by counsel, both complaints were dealt 
with in the same hearing. Nevertheless, the Respondent was invited 
to deal with each complaint separately in his evidence, which he 
did. 

Counsel for the Ontario Human Rights Commission submitted 
that the evidence on each of the complaints should be treated as 
"similar fact" evidence in support of the other complaint. However, 
in view of this Board's clear findings in relation to credibility 
with respect to each of the Complainants and the Respondent, there 
was no need to give consideration to the possibility of "similar 
fact" evidence being considered. 

The circumstances giving rise to both complaints may be 
described, in general, as the "sexual harassment" of employees by 
an employer in the course of employment. The complaints allege 
contravention of the following sections of The Ontario Human Rights 
Code : 

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s.4(l) No person shall... 

(a) dismiss or refuse to employ or 
to continue to employ any person; 
...because of . . . sex . . . of such person 
or employee. 

s.4(l) No person shall... 

(g) discriminate against any employee 
with regard to any teim or condition 
of employment, because of . . . sex. . . of 
such. . .employee. 

Counsel for the Commission argued that the "sexual harassment" 
alleged in these complaints, in effect, created conditions of 
employment which constituted a contravention of section 4 (1) (g) 
of the Code. This Board is in agreement with that submission 
and, in this respect, has found helpful the decision of Horace 
Krever, Chairman, in the Complaint of Keith Simms against Ford 
of Canada (Ontario Truck Plant) dated June 4, 19 70. 

Counsel for the Commission also argued that since the 
"sexual harassment" in question caused the complainants to quit 
their employment, this constituted a "constructive dismissal" 
which fell within section 4(1) (b) of the Code. While that appears 
to be a reasonable interpretation, bearing in mind the objects of 
the Code, this Board's view of section 4(1) (g) is sufficient to 
establish a contravention of the Code on the facts of these com- 
plaints . 

The testimony of Meri Coutroubis establishes that she 
commenced work for the Respondent Bill Sklavos at Sklavos Printing 
on June 19, 1978. She was 17 years of age at the time. Her work 
day normally started between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and ended 

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somewhere between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.. In addition to Bill 
Sklavos and Meri Coutroubis, there were three other employees, 
namely, the wife of Mr. Sklavos, the brother of Mr. Sklavos and 
Irene Kekatos. Meri Coutroubis had experienced no problems in 
relation to her employment prior to August 19th, 1978. 

On Saturday, August 19th, she was asked to work late for 
the first time. She telephoned her mother, who expressed some 
concern, but the Complainant stated that she would have to do her 
job. That evening, only the Respondent Bill Sklavos and the Com- 
plainant Meri Coutroubis remained on the premises. The wife of 
the Respondent had been holidaying in Greece since late July. 
The brother was absent that day and Irene Kekatos had left early. 

The Respondent began to "joke" with Meri Coutroubis about 
her being too young to have lost interest in boys. (She recently 
had separated from her husband). At approximately 9:00 p.m., 
while she was working in the dark room, he entered the room and 
put his arms around her and tried to kiss her. Although she 
resisted, he succeeded in kissing her. When she started to scream, 
he released her and she immediately left for home. As she left, 
he asked her not to tell anyone and stated that he would not "do 
it again" . 

When Meri Coutroubis arrived home, her mother knew that 
something was wrong and the Complainant related what had occurred. 
The Complainant was off work on Sunday and Monday and spent her 



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day off on Monday inquiring about other employment. However, be- 
cause of her poor economic circumstances and because she supported 
her mother, she reported to work as usual on Tuesday. Irene Kekatos 
was not working on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, Irene Kekatos and Meri Coutroubis were working 
together for the first time since the incident which had occurred 
on the previous Saturday. They spoke to each other and when Meri 
Coutroubis related the facts referred to earlier, Irene Kekatos re- 
lated that she had been the object of a similar attack two days 
later (i.e. Monday). No doubt, encouraged by the mutual support 
of each other, the two victims became upset and decided to leave 
immediately, to make a complaint and to seek other employment. 

The Respondent subsequently telephoned Meri Coutroubis and 
asked that she pick up her cheque. She was afraid to do so alone 
and took her mother and Irene Kekatos with her. Mr. Sklavos was 
chastised by the mother and apologized. 

The Board accepts this version of the facts as presented by 
Meri Coutroubis. She was a forthright, sincere and consistent 
witness. Her response to the questioning by the Respondent was 
spontaneous, direct and entirely consistent with her earlier testi- 
mony . 

The testimony of the Respondent ' was simply not credible. 
He basically took the position that he did not remember exactly 
what happened but did not believe that anything happened and did 

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not believe that he had done anything wrong. He testified that 
he told the mother of Meri Coutroubis that he had not touched her 
child. However, on cross-examination he conceded that he might have 
said that he had been drunk at the time and that he was sorry. He 
suggested that the whole matter was a fabrication instigated by 
Irene Kekatos. 

■ The testimony of Irene Kekatos was also trustworthy and 
strongly to be preferred to the hollow denials of the Respondent. 
The Complainant Kekatos related that she commenced working full- 
time for Mr. Sklavos at Sklavos Printing on May 1st, 1978. Shortly 
after Mrs. Sklavos left for her holiday in Greece, in late July, 
the Respondent began to speak suggestively to Irene Kekatos with 
crude jokes and references to her love life. He also began touch- 
ing her. She responded with angry looks and asked him to leave 
her alone. On the Monday in question, he approached her while she 
was working at the typesetter and spoke in a lewd manner. He then 
grabbed her with his hands on her breasts and bit her cheek. She 
began to scream, attracting the Respondent's brother who had been 
in another part of the building. However, since the door to the 
room had earlier been locked, he could only knock at the window. 
The Respondent then stopped and, after some hesitation, gave Irene 
Kekatos the keys, permitting her to leave. 

She returned to her home, where she was living with a cousin 
to whom she related the incident. In addition to the emotional 
trauma she also received some scratches to her body. The cousin 
advised her to keep working until she could obtain other employment. 

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This Board finds that there have been flagrant violations 
of section 4 (1) (g) of the Code by the Respondent in relation to 
both Complainants. 

The Complainant Coutroubis had been earning $125 per week 
at Sklavos Printing. The Complainant Kekatos had been earning 
$200 per week. In addition, Irene Kekatos was a partner with Bill 
Sklavos in a separate venture involving the printing of a magazine 
titled, "Cosmos". This involved work over and above her work for 
Sklavos Printing and would sometimes result in her working until 
2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m., far beyond her normal working hours. 

Approximately one week after they left the employ of Mr. 
Sklavos, both Complainants were able to obtain part-time v/ork as 
cleaning ladies earning three dollars per hour bet^veen them for 
five hours per day for a total of $37.50 per week, each. This 
continued for four weeks. Following another week of unemployment, 
Irene Kekatos was accepted as the manager of a Becker's store and 
she hired Meri Coutroubis as an employee. However, the venture 
proved unprofitable and was abandoned after three months. Meri 
Coutroubis earned wages in the total sum of $765 for the three 
months. Irene Kekatos earned nothing during this period. 

Commission Counsel seeks an order compensating both employees 
for the difference between the amount they would have earned had 
they remained at Sklavos Printing and their actual earnings, from 
the time they left that employm.ent to the end of 1978 . The follow- 
ing table illustrates these figures: 

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Coutroubis Kekatos 
C$125/mo.) ($200/mo.) 



One week unemployed $ 125 $ 200 

Four weeks less $37.50/wk. 350 650 

One week unemployed 125 200 

Thirteen weeks (Beckers) 735 2600 

Totals: $1335 $3650 



This Board is of the view that such an award is reasonable. 

Neither employee experienced any difficulties prior to 
August of 1978. While Sklavos Printing did encounter financial 
problems, it continued to operate until August of 1979. The 
Respondent testified that Irene Kekatos had threatened to quit 
as a result of a dispute arising out of the "Cosmos" venture. 
However, he persuaded her to remain and it is unlikely that she 
would have left without a better prospect. 'She testified that 
she enjoyed her work and her long hours reflect considerable 
dedication. Both complainants appear to have done everything 
possible to mitigate their damages including the acceptance of 
unskilled employment at the extremely low wage of $1.50 per hour. 

Counsel for the Commission also asked for a general award 
in the sum of $750 for each of the Com.plainants in recognition of 
the humiliation and mental anguish experienced by them. Once more, 
this Board is of the view that such an award is reasonable and, if 
anything, counsel for the Commission exhibited an appropriate 
restraint in suggesting this figure. The Complainant Coutroubis 
was a 17 year old girl at the time of the incident and the Respondent 
was old enough to be her father. While the Complainant Kekatos may 



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not have been as vulnerable, the attack upon her was more physically 
aggressive. The evidence indicates that the incidents have had a 
severe and lasting effect upon the Complainants up to the present 
time. An award of $750 is not excessive in the circumstances. 

This Board of Inquiry, therefore, finds that the Respondent 
Bill Sklavos, operating under the firm name of Sklavos Printing, 
did discriminate against the Complainants Meri Coutroubis and Irene 
Kekatos contrary to section 4(1) (g) of The Ontario Human Rights 
Code . 

It is ordered that the Respondents pay to the Complainant 
Meri Coutroubis the sum of $2 085 and that the Respondents pay to 
the Complainant Irene Kekatos the sum of $4 4 00 both by way of recti- 
fication and compensation for injury caused as detailed above. 

Dated this 16th day of June, 1981. 




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